Biography of Annie Duke

Annie Duke isn't only famous for being a talented poker player, for she has won a WSOP gold bracelet and NBC's National Heads Up Championship, but she is also known for the hours of time she devotes to raising money for charitable causes.

Duke loves combining her love of poker and her passion for helping people in need by sponsoring charity poker tournaments. She has successfully raised millions of dollars for various causes including Refugees International and Operation USA.

Early Life

Annie Duke, whose maiden name was Annie Lederer, was born September 13th, 1965. She has one brother, Howard who is an incredible poker player and a sister Katy, who is an established author, having written books on poker herself. When they were young, they would play various card games together, always being very competitive.

Duke attended Columbia University where she double-majored in English and Psychology. After graduation, she accepted a full ride scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania, for a PhD in Psychology.

Duke first played Texas Hold'em in Las Vegas while visiting her brother, Howard Lederer, during her graduate school years. Her brother persuaded her to play poker professionally, sending her with a $2,400 starting bankroll and sending poker strategy books. He also would have regular phone conversations with her where they would discuss different ways she could improve her moves.

Professional Poker Career

Duke initially played in tournaments at the Crystal Lounge in Billings, Montana. Her brother convinced her that her poker abilities would good enough to match the pros at the 1994 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Within the first month of the competition, she won $70,000 and decided that it would be in her best interest to move to Las Vegas to start playing poker full-time.

Duke continued entering the WSOP and by 2000, she had sixteen in the money finishes at that tournament in total. Despite being nine-months pregnant, she placed 10th in the 2000 WSOP World Championship main event, which was the second-highest finish by a woman in the event's history.

She won her first WSOP gold bracelet in 2004, taking first place in the Omaha Hi-Lo Split tournament. By July of that year she had become the top female money winner in the history of the WSOP, earning over $650,000.

In 2010, Duke won NBC's National Heads Up Poker Championship, winning $500,000 and becoming the first and only female winner of the event. She was competing against 64 other players, including Erik Seidel and Huck Seed, who made it to the final round.

Other Poker Associations

In the early 2000s, Duke worked as a spokesperson and consultant for ieLogic, the company that developed online poker software for Ultimate Bet. She moved to Portland, Oregon where IeLogic"s headquarters were located, but only stayed with the company for a few years.

In the mid-2000s, she develop the idea for the television show, Annie Duke Takes on the World, which played on the Game Show Network for several season, as people enjoyed watching her play poker against amateur players.

She has written a variety of poker guide books, including The Middle Zone, Decide to Play Great Poker, and her autobiography, "How I Raised, Folded, Bluffed, Flirted, Cursed, and Won Millions at the World Series of Poker," which was published in 2005.

She has served on the World Series of Poker advisory committee, where she was given the opportunity to teach at the WSOP Poker Academy poker school. She has taught a number of celebrities on the basics of playing poker, including Ben Affleck and Matt Damon.

Personal Life/ Notable Charities

Annie was married to Ben Duke for twelve years, before getting a divorce. They have four beautiful children together: Maud, Leo, Lucy, and Neil. She has full custody of the children and moved with them to Hollywood Hill, California after the divorce was finalized. Shortly after moving, in 2009, she appeared on NBC's hit show, Celebrity Apprentice, where she helped raise over $700,000 for Refugees International, a charity that advocates for refugees around the world.

Duke is a co-founder of Epic Poker League, whose main goal is to raise funds for various charities. They sponsored several tournaments at the Palms Casino Resort and were able to raise more than $125,000. Of that money, $25,000 was given to the Fallen Heroes USA organization, $48,000 was given to the Prevent Cancer Foundation, and $53,000 was given for Operation USA, which supports families of fallen officers.

In 2013, Duke was honored to be invited to serve on the Board of Directors for After School All-Stars, where she and other successful men and women taught children that they can accomplish anything as long as they have the drive and motivation to do so. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Chairman of this group, said this in regards of Duke, "She is smart, tough, and she knows what it takes to succeed."
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